A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The main portion of this scattered township lies about 5 miles north north-west of Middleton Church. It is separated from the central portion of the parish by the township of Heap in Bury, with which it is much intermixed, having no fewer than five detached portions to the south, east, and north. Birtle hamlet, near which is Sillinghurst, is in the western half of the main part of the township; much of Bamford lies in Heap. The area is 1,429 acres, (fn. 1) of which Birtle has 1,200. The surface is hilly; the highest portion of the main part of the township, over 800 ft. above sealevel, lies on the northern side. The population in 1901 was 1,447.
The soil is loam, with stone below; the land is chiefly in pasture. Bleaching, dyeing, and papermaking are carried on. In Bamford are large woollen and cotton factories. There are several stone quarries, and coal-mining was formerly carried on.
In 1882 Cobhouse Farm in Walmersley and Diggles in Heap were added to Birtle-with-Bamford. (fn. 2) A number of changes were made in 1894; the township was greatly extended by the inclusion of a part of Heap and the whole of Ashworth; parts of it were cut off and included in Heywood, Bury, and Walmersley. (fn. 3)
In 1666 there were fifty-six hearths liable to the tax. The only large house was that of Holt of Gristlehurst, with thirteen hearths. (fn. 4)
Castle Hill and Gallows Hill adjoin each other in Birtle proper. (fn. 5)
There does not seem to have been at any time a manor of BIRTLE, the land being held in parcels of the lord of Middleton. (fn. 6) The local surname was at one time in use, for in 1246 Roger de Birtle, whose tenement was said to be in Bury, complained that Geoffrey de Middleton had raised a mill-pool to his injury and to the injury of Adam de Bury. Adam's claim was rejected by the jury, but they admitted Roger's, for the course of the water had been altered so that the water laid waste his land. They at first ordered that the old state of things should be restored, but the parties having agreed, they ordered that Geoffrey should pay half a mark yearly to Roger, and leave the mill-pool as it was. (fn. 7)
The Bury family in the 16th century held part of Birtle. (fn. 8)
The most prominent residents were the Holts of GRISTLE HURST, (fn. 9) who were in possession in the first part of the 15th century, succeeding a family named Wood, (fn. 10) and in the 16th century acquired large portions of the monastic estates, and flourished (fn. 11) for a brief period. In 1562 the capital messuage called Gristlehurst was found to be held of Richard Ashton of Middleton in socage, and by the rent of 17d.; part of the land, called Fernhurst, was held of the queen in socage by a rent of 4d., and the rest of the demesne lands, being in Bury, was held of William Bamford also in socage, by the rent of 18d. (fn. 12) The estate was acquired about 1660 by another branch of the family, (fn. 13) and after some descents in this line was conveyed in marriage by Elizabeth daughter and heiress of William Holt to Richard Beaumont of Whitley Beaumont, by whom it was, in 1758, sold to Mr. Milne of Flockton Manor House. It was in 1849 the property of James Fenton of Bamford Hall. (fn. 14)
Daniel Leach died in 1638 holding a messuage and lands in Birtle of Ralph Assheton of Middleton. (fn. 15)
At Castle Hill resided for some time a family named Lomax. (fn. 18)
The greater part of BAMFORD lies within the township of Heap in Bury, but part lies in the detached eastern part of Birtle-with-Bamford. (fn. 19) 'Nacfield ' in Middleton, perhaps near Nat Bank (now Gnat Bank) in Bamford, with the rent and service of the Earl of Derby, was included in the share of Ralph Standish on a division of the Chaderton estates in 1534. (fn. 20) Francis Chadwick died in 1622 holding a messuage and land in Bamford of Richard Assheton of Middleton; Edmund his son and heir was about fifteen years of age. (fn. 21) Edmund and several other Chadwicks were living in this part of Bamford in 1650. (fn. 22) Kenyon Fold commemorates a branch of the Kenyon family which had an estate in Bamford and Crimbles. (fn. 23)
The land tax return of 1788 shows that the land was much subdivided. The most important contributor was William Bamford, who paid about a tenth part. (fn. 24)
For the worship of the Established Church, St. John the Baptist's, Birtle, was built in 1845, and consecrated the following year; the rector of Middleton has the patronage. (fn. 25)